Kevin Smith returns as running backs coach for Ole Miss football

Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin added a familiar name to his staff Wednesday with the addition of Kevin Smith as running backs coach.

The Miami, Florida, native spent the 2020 and 2021 seasons with the Rebels and previously served on Kiffin’s staff at Florida Atlantic.

Smith most recently served as running backs coach at Miami during the 2022 season.

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“Coach Smith helped lay the foundation for the championship program that we are building here at Ole Miss, and we look forward to welcoming him back to our staff,” Kiffin said. “His credentials as a running back and running backs coach speak for themselves. His return along with the return of Quinshon (Judkins) and our other backs builds some amazing excitement to see what levels can be reached at that position.”

In his last season in Oxford, three of Smith’s running backs ranked in the top 25 of the Southeastern Conference in total rushing yards at the end of the regular season – Jerrion Early, Snoop Conner and Henry Parrish. Ole Miss ranked No. 12 in the FBS in rushing yards in 2021, amassing 2,829 yards on the ground for an average of 217.6 per game.

Smith made an immediate impact in Oxford with the SEC’s leading rushing attack in 2020. Ole Miss averaged 210.6 yards per game on the ground to top the conference and rank 26th nationally. Rebel running backs scored 19 touchdowns over the 10-game season. The sophomore duo of Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner accounted for 17 of those touchdowns with Ealy’s nine leading all Rebels and ranking sixth in the SEC. Under Smith’s guidance, Ealy earned second team All-SEC honors from Pro Football Focus.

Smith served as running backs coach for Kiffin at FAU from 2017-19, helping capture a pair of Conference USA titles. Prior to Smith’s arrival in Boca Raton, the Owls had tallied two seasons in which they had surpassed the 2,000-yard rushing mark as a team since the program started in 2001. Smith mentored the FAU running backs to three straight 2,000-yard rushing efforts.

Under Smith’s tutelage at FAU, Devin Singletary became the first running back in NCAA history to score 29 touchdowns in a season since Smith did it himself as a star at UCF. Singletary, whose 33 total TDs rank third all-time in single-season touchdowns, was named C-USA’s MVP in Smith’s first year at FAU.

The 2017 FAU running game ranked No. 6 nationally in rushing yards per game (285.3). The No. 6 national ranking was a jump of 45 spots from the previous year. Singletary and Kerrith Whyte, Jr. were both drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Smith is no stranger to rushing records. The Miami native set 17 school rushing records at UCF, including an FBS single-season record with 450 carries and 13 100-yard performances in 2007.

After earning first team All-America honors his junior season at UCF, Smith was selected in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions in the third round. He went on to play five years for the Lions, amassing 17 rushing touchdowns while battling injuries during his career.

Smith graduated from UCF in 2015 with a degree in liberal studies. Smith and his wife Tisha have six children: Kevin Jr., Dennis, Kai, Dennisha, Summer and Paris.